The Old Nul Points contained a dedicated page for each country to have dipped it’s toe into the Eurovision shark pool; Our slimmed down responsive thingy demands less tables and such so here is each country in a nutshell:
ALBANIA (BEST: 5TH IN 2012)
Albania made their debut in 2004. Indeed they were so keen that they chose their 2004 song in December 2003!. As a newcomer, they had to go via the semi-final route, and this they did with some panache, as young Anjeza Shahini delivered a confident and appealing performance. They easily qualified for direct entry to the 2005 final, when their song was one of many in Eastern ethnic style and was overlooked. This one-trick pony style and the need to look for something else was made clear when they failed to make the 2006 and 2007 finals. A strong ballad in 2008 got them back in the final as did Britney clones the next two years later, but somewhat ironically it was a pared-down ballad that achieved their best ever result in 2012. Since then their fortunes have waned again.
ANDORRA (BEST: NEVER QUALIFIED)
Andorra spent six years attempting to qualify for a contest final in the new millennium. The first three years their Catalan sung entries fell well short of qualification. A poppier song in 2007 with a bit of English was highly regarded but fell just short, thanks in most part to bloc and diaspora voting. The audience for the final included a prominent banner “Where is Andorra?” which reflected widespread disgust at the principality’s absence rather than any geographical deficiency. In the next two years a Spanish pop-idol cast-off and Danish singer fared no better, and in late 2009 they announced their withdrawal from the contest. In 2016 they are now the only entrant to have never competed in a contest final.
ARMENIA (BEST: 4TH IN 2008 AND 2014)
Armenia made their debut in 2006. Their website proclaimed “Armenians in the Diaspora! Stay with Public TV of Armenia on May 18th and vote for Andre! Nothing is possible without your love!”. The ex-pats responded and gave Armenia a top-eight finish, a strategy and result that was pretty much duplicated the next four years. The wheels came off in 2011 with a surprising DNQ, and after originally signing up for the 2012 contest in Baku, they withdrew in early March for political reasons. As odds-on favourite before contest week in 2014, they rather disappointed in a fourth place outcome. They’ve remained a reliable standard and returned to the top ten in 2016.
AUSTRALIA (BEST: 2ND IN 2016)
Debuted in 2015 as “special guests” with a guaranteed place in the final and made the most of it with a fifth place, a year later they had to qualify but sailed through and finished as runners-up. In fact after the jury votes were announced they had a clear lead but the televotes saw them overhauled by Ukraine.
AUSTRIA (BEST: WON IN 1966 AND 2014)
Austria’s Euro history has been largely one of underachievement and spasmodic withdrawals. Three Nul Pointers (only Norway has more) and four other last places. The undeniable high point was Udo Jurgens three year stint, as he topped two top six finishes with the country’s only triumph in 1966. Other relative good times were two top fives either side of a break in the early 70s and reasonable results in the early 90s. The enigmatic Alf Poier pulled out a great result in 2003, but subsequent disillusionment meant a withdrawal from most contests for the remainder of the decade. Perhaps inspired by the German victory, they returned in 2011. After just one qualification in three the fabulous Conchita Wurst swept to the Grand Prix in 2014.
AZERBAIJAN (BEST: WON IN 2011)
Azerbaijan in 2008 became the latest ex-Soviet republic to throw it’s hat into the Eurovision ring. It’s record since then has been utterly phenomenal. Their debut entry (above) was dramatic and quirky, but not satisfied with eighth place they dispensed with the quirky for mainstream, highly polished entries with top-dollar presentation and the results flowed. In 2010 Azerbaijan arrived as favourites after an expensive media campaign but a poor draw killed off their chances. A year later though they were not to be denied and edged to a narrow victory in Dusseldorf. This meant the prize of hosting the 2012 contest in a brand new auditorium in Baku, and another effortless top-five result. After occupying each of the top five position in five consecutive years the wheels have came off dramatically since 2013.
BELARUS (BEST: 6TH IN 2007)
Belarus finally made their first appearance in a Eurovision final in 2007. Their first attempt in 2004 fell at the pre-selection, and despite a quite arbitrary late replacement of song that won a national final their 2005 entry failed also. Such tinkering with their originally chosen entry has become almost an annual saga, with little noticeable benefit in contest week. They were fourth time lucky in 2007 and made a top six finish. The rule change for 2008 meaning top tenners don’t get automatic final places the next year was changed just when it was Belarus turn to benefit, and their record has continued to be by far the worst of the ex-Soviet republics.
BELGIUM (BEST: WON IN 1986)
Belgium has a Walloon (French language) state TV station and a Flemish one and the honour of supplying the Belgian entry has faithfully alternated between the two. Over the years French language entries have done conspicuously better than those in Flemish. Highlights: probably the early 80s with three top 5 finishes within 5 years, all by French language songs, admittedly interspersed with two bottom 3 results from Flemish songs. The 2003 result (only their 3rd top 3 placing) was with a song in neither French nor Flemish but an imaginary language; go figure. In the early years of the semis they were one of the band of “old” countries who regularly failed to qualify for the final (they were prequalified in 2004), but the current decade has been kinder with three top ten finishes.
BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA (BEST: 3RD IN 2006)
Bosnia made an OK start in Eurovision in the circumstances (their first 1993 entrants Fazla had to dodge enemy fire to board the plane to Ireland and their 1994 duo missed their cue at the start of the song due to the loud ovation they received) , then things tailed off until their excellent 1999 result, since when mid table respectability has been achieved. In 2004 they were part of the successful Balkan bandwagon, and in 2006 they employed the Serb who came second in 2004 to write the song and promptly got their first top three result as they mopped up the votes that the absent Serbia-Montenegro song would have garnered. Since then they could generally be relied upon for a solid result, however after a disappointing performance in 2012 they pulled out of the contest. They returned in 2016 but for the first time ever DNQ’d, missing the final by one place.
BULGARIA (BEST: 2ND IN 2017)
Bulgaria’s first two attempts fell well short of a final place, but in 2007 they finally got through and did very well, placing fifth. The next year a widely acclaimed dance number just missed out on the final due to the new rule where juries choose the tenth qualifier from each semi, and since then nothing has come close to qualifying until 2012 when they missed the final by a whisker. After their only finalists failed to repeat the trick in 2013 they pulled out of the contest for a couple of years. 2016 saw them return and claim their finest result with a strong fourth place. A year later they topped that with a solid second place from Kristian Kostov.
CROATIA (BEST: 4TH IN 1996 AND 1999)
Croatia were out of the blocks with a solid set of results, the only 1994 newcomer to qualify for every subsequent contest until 2007 when they came up short. Indeed in a great streak in the 90s they achieved four top six finishes in five years. Croatia have a reputation for dramatic presentation that has been toned down a little in recent years as their results have faded to mid-table. Going into the new millennium their neighbour vote usually ensured qualification for the final, but once there the absence of wider support meant they generally fell short of the top ten. The current decade saw four consecutive DNQs followed by absence from the 2014 and 2015 contests. They returned in 2016 and scraped into the final.
CYPRUS (BEST: 5TH IN 1982 AND 1997)
A great start for Cyprus with top six results in the first two years was then followed by a string of disastrous form. The turn of the decade saw their results tending to mid table consistency, however come the end of the 90s their scores fell off again, only to be resurrected briefly in the first years of new millennium. Neither of their top six results of the new millennium were typically Mediterranean, one was Euro-pop and the other a syrupy love ballad. Their 2012 entry, despite a mid-table result, went on to become the second most commercially successful song from the contest.
CZECH REPUBLIC (BEST: 25TH in 2016)
The Czech Republic were the last major country in Central Europe to resist the charms of Eurovision, but 2007 saw their very long awaited debut. They somewhat misjudged the mood by sending a bunch of grizzled rockers and barely troubled the semi-final scoreboard finishing last of all. A year later a strong song with a weak singer again failed to progress, and after a another dismal result the next year the Czechs pulled out. They Czeched back in for the sixtieth contest in 2015 and a year later made their first final, however once there finished second-last and scored “Nul Points” in the televote.